Evaluation of the Youth Justice Initiative Funding Components


The YJI continues the three funding components of the YJRI, with some changes to their design. The target beneficiaries of the YJI are youth who are in conflict with the criminal justice system and aged 12 to 17 at the time of the offence / alleged offence (Department of Justice, 2008, September, p. 5). The following table summarizes the funding components, which are described in more detail in this section.

Table 1:  Summary of the Funding Components

Youth Justice Services Funding Program

Intensive Rehabilitative Custody and Supervision Program

Youth Justice Fund

Main agreements with provinces and territories

Sources of funding:
Core – funds identified in the development of the Youth Justice Initiative
Youth Crime Prevention: Guns, Gangs and Drugs Priority
Youth Justice Anti-Drug Strategy

Eligible funding components
Cities and Communities Partnerships
Innovative Programming
Public Legal Education and Information
Provincial/Territorial Partnerships

2.1. Youth Justice Services Funding Program

The YJSFP agreements support the provinces and territories in providing a range of youth justice services and programs that are necessary to support the federal policy objectives as outlined in the YCJA. Specifically, the objectives are to support and promote a range of programs and services that:

  • encourage accountability measures for unlawful behaviour that are proportionate to the severity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender;
  • encourage effective rehabilitation and reintegration of young persons into their communities;
  • target the formal court process to the most serious offences; and
  • target custody to the most serious offences (Department of Justice, 2006, p. 14).

The YJSFP accounts for 91% of the YJI budget in 2008–2009 (Department of Justice, 2008, September, p. 7). Federal funding for the YJSFP is a maximum of $177,302,415 per year for the agreements covering the period of fiscal year 2006–2007 to 2010–2011 (Department of Justice, 2008, September, p. 17; Department of Justice, 2006, p. 13). Additional detailed information on annual spending can be found in Table 1, Appendix B.

The time period covered by the evaluation straddles two sets of YJSFP agreements: the one-year extension (2005–2006) of the 2000–2001 to 2004–2005 agreements and the current set of agreements, which covers fiscal years 2006–2007 to 2010–2011. As the current agreements emphasize maintenance of programs and services developed under the prior set of agreements, they no longer include the bridge funding, which supported implementation of the YCJA. The 2% annual escalator to cover the costs of inflation has also been removed.

2.1.1. YJSFP Agreement Models

There are two types of agreements used for the YJSFP: (a) the standard or ‘priority-based’ model; and (b) the alternative or ‘results-based’ model. Under the former, YJI funding is targeted to activities based on the likelihood of their promoting and supporting the objectives of the program. For the latter, funding is based on the achievement of a mutually agreed-upon and measurable target that is consistent with the objectives of the YJSFP. Reporting differs depending on the type of agreement, with programs using ‘results-based’ models having somewhat fewer requirements (Department of Justice, 2006, p. 15). Provinces/territories can choose between the two models. For the initial agreements (2000–2001 – 2005–2006), most provinces opted for the standard model; the provinces using the alternative model were Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Quebec.[3]

Standard or priority-based model.

There are three categories of priorities under the standard model:

  • High priority programs and services are those considered most likely to promote and support the objectives of the YJSFP, including: diversion and extrajudicial measures; extrajudicial sanctions programs; rehabilitative services; reintegration services; judicial interim release programs; reports and assessments; intensive support and supervision programs; attendance programs; conferencing; other community-based sanctions; and other high priority programs and services (Department of Justice, 2008, September, p. 8; Appendix A of the agreements).
  • Medium-priority programs and services are those not directly related to the YJSFP objectives but vital to the implementation of high priority programs and services, such as basic custodial programming, basic community supervision, and community-based custody (Appendix B of the provincial agreements). Medium-priority services are included as part of the high priority category for the territories.
  • The low-priority category covers costs related to control, containment, and maintenance of youth in institutional custody settings (Department of Justice, 2008, September, pp. 8-9).

The specific interpretations of the high, medium, and low priority categories differ somewhat by jurisdiction, based on bilateral negotiations with the Department, to accommodate variation in the particular programs and services offered in each province/territory.

High priority programs and services delivered by the provinces and territories are eligible for 60% reimbursement from the federal government, while programming in the medium and low categories receive 35% and 20% reimbursement, respectively, up to a maximum set for each jurisdiction, and dependent on the jurisdictions meeting established minimum expenditure levels on high priority programming (Department of Justice, 2008, September, p. 9).

Alternative model.

This model does not create priority categories of programs and services, but instead sets mutually agreed-upon and measurable targets consistent with YJSFP objectives. For the initial agreements (2000–2001 – 2005–2006), the agreed-upon targets called for a reduction and/or maintenance below certain levels of average youth custody rates (Alberta, New Brunswick, and Quebec) or average youth custody populations (Nova Scotia), as measured by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS). [4]

Jurisdictions using the alternative model receive reimbursement of 50% of eligible expenditures up to a set maximum, as long as they continue to meet the targets. If the targets are not achieved during the agreement period, the province or territory must reimburse the federal government for contributions, in proportion to the degree to which the jurisdiction has fallen short of its targets (Department of Justice, 2008, September, p. 9).

For the new agreements 2006–2007 to 2010–2011, Alberta is still using the alternative model, while New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have switched to the standard model.[5] Jurisdictions using the alternative model were initially exempt from the more complicated reporting required under the priority-based agreements; however, the current agreements require the submission of more detailed information on expenditures. An allocation of $25,000 of federal funding towards the administration of the alternative agreements accompanied this change, to bring the amount provided for this purpose to $50,000, in line with the priority-based agreements. The alternative model limits federal funding to 50% of eligible expenditures.

2.2. Intensive Rehabilitative Custody and Supervision Program

The IRCS Program provides funding to the provinces and territories to support the specialized services required for the administration of the sentence of ‘intensive rehabilitative custody and supervision’ provided for in the YCJA.[6] IRCS sentences were designed to provide treatment for youth who suffer from mental health issues and who are found guilty of a serious violent offence.[7]

These sentences involve the treatment of mental health issues among young people found guilty of the most serious and violent offences and where the level of violence might be reduced through therapy and treatment. There are no specific mental diagnoses required to be eligible for an IRCS sentence as per the YCJA; specialists in each jurisdiction conduct assessments based on their professional expertise. The provincial/territorial director must confirm that an IRCS Program is available and appropriate for the youth, and the youth must consent to undertake the treatment.

First introduced in fiscal year 2002–2003, the IRCS agreements are supplementary to the YJSFP agreements. The initial IRCS agreements ran from fiscal year 2002–2003 to 2006–2007. An extension covered fiscal year 2007–2008, while negotiations were ongoing for the renewal of the agreements. The current agreements cover fiscal year 2008–2009 to 2012–2013 and the allocation for the IRCS Program is set at $11,048,000 per year for this period. Expenditures cannot be claimed under both YJSFP and IRCS. On request and with the submission of accompanying reports, jurisdictions may receive quarterly as opposed to annual payments for IRCS.

Initial estimates were that 50 IRCS sentences would be handed down per year across the country; instead, as of March 31, 2009, there had been a total of 50 IRCS orders since the YCJA came into force in 2003. As a result, in 2006, the IRCS Program was cut by $10.2 million annually and capped at $11 million annually, which was deemed sufficient given IRCS caseloads. Variances between planned and actual spending for the years of the evaluation were relatively large, reflecting the lower than anticipated IRCS caseload (Table 2, Appendix B). A profile of IRCS cases is located in Appendix C.

2.2.1. Components of the IRCS Program

There are four parts to the IRCS Program (A to D). Part A (Basic Capacity) includes an annual amount provided to provincial/territorial governments to establish and/or maintain a minimum capacity to provide specialized mental health assessment and treatment plans for IRCS orders. This amount was $100,000 per province, $150,000 each for the Yukon and Northwest Territories, and $175,000 for Nunavut until the end of fiscal year 2007–2008, at which point it increased to $200,000 for all provinces and territories (Department of Justice, 2008, September, p. 10). Part A services that are not utilized in a given jurisdiction because of a lack of IRCS sentences can be redistributed to enhancing capacity and rehabilitative services for non-IRCS cases with similar mental health and violence issues.

Part B (Court Orders) provides $275 per day per offender under an IRCS sentence (up to $100,375 per year per offender) to jurisdictions to cover the costs of services required under IRCS orders. Eligible services include therapeutic services, rehabilitative and reintegration services, and supervision services (Department of Justice, 2006, p. 16). Lower-than-expected numbers of IRCS sentences led to the lapsing of funds during the first set of IRCS agreements. In response, the IRCS agreements were revised to include Parts C and D (Exceptional Cases and Project Funding). Part C allows the Department to provide funding to jurisdictions for other exceptional cases of youth involved in serious violent offending and affected by mental health problems that could not receive an IRCS sentence based on their offence but otherwise fill all criteria for an IRCS sentence. If there is funding available once Parts B and C are accounted for, the Department could fund special projects under Part D that address issues related to the mental health of young persons found guilty of serious violent offences and focus on identified federal youth justice policy objectives. Instituted in fiscal year 2008–2009 with the most current IRCS agreements, Parts C and D are beyond the scope of this evaluation because they have only existed for a relatively short time. The maximum federal envelope for Parts B, C and D is $8,448,000 for the entire country for each year of agreement over the 2008–2009 to 2012–2013 time frame. Funding is prioritized for Part B, followed by Part C and then Part D.

2.3. Youth Justice Fund

The YJF provides grants and contributions to non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community-based organizations, individuals, and provincial/territorial ministries responsible for youth justice in order to:

  • help achieve a fairer and more effective youth justice system;
  • respond to emerging youth justice issues; and
  • enable greater citizen/community participation in the youth justice system (Department of Justice, 2009, March 24, p. 4).

A key focus of the YJF is supporting pilots to test innovative approaches to youth justice issues as a means of advancing federal policy objectives.

2.3.1. YJF Funding Sources

The YJF comprises three sources of funding: Core Fund; Youth Crime Prevention: Guns, Gangs, and Drugs (GGD) Priority; and Youth Justice Anti-Drug Strategy. There were substantial variances between planned and actual spending for the YJF during the period covered by the evaluation, reflecting lower than anticipated uptake (Table 3, Appendix B).

Core Fund

The Core fund is very similar to its predecessor, the Youth Justice Renewal Fund (YJRF). Through the YJF, NGOs, community-based organizations, individuals and provincial and territorial ministries may apply for grants and contributions to help achieve a fairer and more effective youth justice system, to respond to emerging youth justice issues, and to enable greater citizen/community participation in the youth justice system. As of 2007–2008, the allocation for the Core Fund is $1,030,000 annually and ongoing (Department of Justice, 2008, September, p. 18).

Youth Crime Prevention: GGD Priority

As part of the federal government’s priority of crime prevention/intervention for youth involved in GGD activities, this funding aims to:

  • target youth currently in the justice system who are vulnerable to gang involvement or are already involved in gangs; and
  • promote the making of “smart choices” among targeted youth.

Since fiscal year 2006–2007, the GGD Priority has received $2,500,000 annually (Department of Justice, 2006, p. 10).

Youth Justice Anti-Drug Strategy (YJADS)

YJF funding supports the YJADS, which is part of the Treatment Action Plan of the National Anti-Drug Strategy. The objectives of the YJADS are to:

  • work collaboratively with interested provinces and territories as well as other stakeholders to identify gaps in drug treatment programs for youth in the justice system;
  • introduce, pilot and evaluate a number of drug treatment options for youth involved in the youth justice system; and
  • share knowledge of the piloted drug treatment programs and promising practices with provinces and territories as well as other interested stakeholders (Department of Justice, 2008, May, p. 87).

The budget for the YJADS is set for $1,475,000 on an annual ongoing basis (Department of Justice, 2008, September, p. 18).

2.3.2. YJF Funding Components and Criteria

Projects eligible for YJF support may receive funding under the following four components:

Cities and Communities Partnerships (CCP):

Objective: To enable greater citizen/community participation in the youth justice system (including building capacity within Aboriginal organizations and communities), encourage partnerships among traditional and non-traditional youth justice partners, and encourage collaborative responses to a number of youth justice needs within targeted cities or communities by working with other funders and/or community organizations (Department of Justice, 2008, September, p. 14).

Innovative Programming (IP):

Objective: To support projects and activities that help identify, understand and provide innovative responses to youth justice system challenges and at key decision points in the youth justice process (Department of Justice, 2006, p. 17).

Public Legal Education and Information (PLEI):

Objective: To create an awareness of the youth justice legislation and inform Canadians of the content of the legislation and its implications (Department of Justice, 2006, p. 17).

Provincial/Territorial Partnerships (PTP):

Objective: To influence change in the youth justice system by providing funding to provincial and territorial ministries and/or their designates to address pressures or emerging priorities of youth in conflict with the law and respond to them in a manner that is consistent with the intent of the YCJA and advances the federal policy objectives for the renewal of justice (Department of Justice, 2008, September, p. 12).

Core funding may be applied to projects under all four components, while GGD and YJADS funding may only be directed to three of the four components, as shown in Table 2 below (Department of Justice, 2008, September, p. 12).

Table 2: YJF Eligible components by funding source






















The Department reviews and revises YJF funding criteria on an annual basis as necessary to reflect changing priorities and emerging youth justice issues. The Youth Justice Policy and Programs branches, as well as YJF personnel, are involved in this review process. In general, over the years covered by the evaluation, PLEI and Aboriginal capacity-building activities were phased out of the criteria, while CCP became the dominant component.[8] In later years, somewhat greater emphasis was placed on youth with mental health issues, including fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). There also appeared to be a slightly greater focus on research and evaluation activities over time.

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